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  Ensign N180 Cosworth
 

  Article Image gallery (15) MN14 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1981
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Ralph Bellamy and Nigel Bennett
Predecessor:Ensign N179 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 04, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionEnsign followed up on the team's 1977 breakthrough season with two disastrous years, during the second of which the latest N179 managed to qualify for just four rounds. Team principal Mo Nunn nevertheless had managed to attract enough budget thanks to a sponsorship deal with Unipart to hire a pair of new designers, Ralph Bellamy and Nigel Bennett, with the eye on creating a brand new car for the 1980 season.

Eager not to repeat the mistakes of the originally very unconventional N179, Bellamy and Bennett instead took cues from the latest Williams FW07, which would be the inspiration for more than one new car in 1980. In order to maximise the area available for the underbody ground-effect venturis, in-board suspension was fitted on all four corners and a relatively long wheelbase was chosen. Like its predecessor and most other cars on the grid, the new N180 was powered by the latest evolution of the venerable Cosworth DFV engine.

Finished in the attractive Unipart colours of red, white and blue, the first N180 was entrusted to Clay Regazzoni. The car showed potential but a massive accident in the fourth Grand Prix of the year, at Long Beach, sadly left Regazzoni paralysed. For the remainder of the season, the team then used a succession of drivers with limited success. Tiff Needell drove an N180 twice before Jan Lammers took over for the remainder of the season with a 12th the best result. In the Dutch and Italian Grands Prix Geoff Lees drove a second N180.

Despite the ultimately disappointing results in 1980, the team still believed in the same basic design and the car evolved into the N180B for the 1981 season. Marc Surer piloted this car in the first six rounds of the season, scoring excellent fourth and sixth place finishes. During the remaining rounds, Eliseo Salazar was Ensign's designated driver and he added a further point to the team's tally by finishing sixth in the Dutch Grand Prix.

For the 1982 season, the thoroughly upgraded N181 was developed by Bennett alone. It made extensive use of carbon-fibre composites to further strengthen the chassis. The new Ensign finished only once, a lowly eighth, in what was the team's final season. As such the, N180 and its 1981 evolution was the last ever Ensign to score a World Championship point.

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  Article Image gallery (15) MN14 Specifications